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For local poet and actor Regie Cabico, D.C.’s gay community was always “RuPaul or kickball,” so the man known around town as the Lady Gaga of spoken word started a place for queers to tell their “own rainbow truth” instead. Since 2008, SPARKLE has given local creatives a monthly queer open mic night for sharing their music and words. Cabico recalls that, in the early days, people would ask for their money back once they figured out that it was queer-themed. By now, the event has attracted a crew of regulars and developed some much-loved traditions. The top of every show, in an intro from Cabico, goes like this: “If you’re queer, make some noise. [applause] If you’re not queer, but you want to make out with someone who’s queer, make some noise. [applause] See me after the show.” It’s a friendly and encouraging crowd—just ask Adele Hampton, who got her start performing at SPARKLE and is now competing with the Beltway Poetry Slam Team. While poetry and slam are the main acts, co-host Danielle Evennou says bands like the Sweater Set and comedians like Sampson McCormick have also graced the stage. What’s so fun about SPARKLE? There are no rules, and it’s the safest of spaces: You can read that weird cross-genre, oversharing thing you wrote on your cell phone while commuting to your boring job, and the crowd will clap and cheer for you no matter what. SPARKLE virgins, as the hosts call newcomers, are always welcome.